Mark Songy didn’t envision his return to the Jesuit High School sideline starting off the way it did.
Songy, formerly the Blue Jays football coach from 1992-96, reclaimed his position as the head man at Jesuit after Wayde Kaiser surprisingly announced his retirement in July.
Leading a Jesuit team that was ranked No. 6 in The New Orleans Advocate Large School rankings against a Ponchatoula team that has never defeated the Blue Jays sounded like the formula to a triumphant return for Songy, right?
Not so much.
On the first play of the game, running back Charles Jackson fumbled a handoff and Ponchatoula recovered the ball at the Jesuit 20. Two plays later, the Green Wave took a 7-0 lead after a 4-yard touchdown run by Christian Campbell.
Jesuit was able to stay within striking distance the majority of the game, but were never quite able to get over the hump, falling to Ponchatoula 24-21.
“We started out on our heels, turning the ball over quickly. That’s something that you just can’t do against a good team,” Songy said. “I like the way we fought the whole night; we just have to eliminate mistakes. The past few weeks, we’ve waited for an opportunity to arrive rather than creating our own opportunities. That’s something we have got to get better at.”
While the season-opening loss was a disappointment for Jesuit, they also understand that they don’t have much time to feel sorry for themselves. They have another tough matchup Friday against the No. 6 ranked large school, according to the New Orleans Advocate, St. Paul’s (Jesuit fell to No. 8 after their loss).
“We had a bunch of opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” said Jesuit quarterback Trey LaForge, who finished 17-of-22 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Ponchatoula loss. “We made a bunch of mistakes, and we’re just trying to correct them going into the St. Paul’s game.”
Songy knows his team has a daunting challenge ahead of them in order to avoid starting the season 0-2, but said putting them in these types of stressful environments will make them better going forward.
“We’ve got a really tough schedule, and I wouldn’t change that for the world,” Songy said. “I don’t think you benefit much from playing bad football teams. If you look at our schedule, we’re pretty much facing a quality opponent every week. I think that puts you under the gun a little bit, but it makes you produce.
“I think you get a lot out of playing quality opponents. We got a bit of a reality check last week and we learned what happens when you play a good team and don’t handle your business.”
While the expectations were high for Jesuit entering this season, Songy understands he is still in the process of learning his team and that it may take a while before the Blue Jays truly hit their stride.
“I didn’t start working with these guys until a little over a month ago. I learn something new about them every day,” Songy said. “I believe we can be a very competitive football team. The expectations are high on us for a reason. We’ve got a number of good players on offense and defense. We just have to make sure we take care of the little things.”